Govt. pledges to increase water level at Lake Urmia 

February 22, 2019

TEHRAN — The Iranian government has pledged to take measures to increase water level at Lake Urmia by one meter within the next three years, deputy environment chief Masoud Tajrishi has said.

Shared between West Azarbaijan and East Azarbaijan provinces Lake Urmia, was once the largest salt-water lake in the Middle East. It was a home to many migratory and indigenous animals including flamingos, pelicans, egrets and ducks and attracted hundreds of tourists every year who had taken a trip to take advantage of the therapeutic properties of the lake. 

In 1999 the volume of water was at 30 billion cubic meters drastically decreased to half a billion cubic meters in 2013. Moreover, the lake surface area of 5,000 square kilometers in 1997 shrunk to one tenth of that to 500 square kilometers in 2013.

With implementation of the necessary measures the lake level will rise by some 30 centimeters annually and 1 meter in three years, Tajrishi said, adding that, this year (started on March 21, 2018) some 5 trillion rials (nearly $120 million) was allocated to the lake restoration programs. 

Before establishing headquarters for restoration of Lake Urmia in 2013 the water level decreased by 40 centimeters annually and the measures taken in past few years have revived the lake again, IRNA news agency reported on Thursday.

The drastic decrease of the lake water level over the past 20 years has seriously affected the lake’s wildlife and human ecology. In order to maintain the lake ecological balance the lake surface area should increase to twice its current size to almost 4,300 square kilometers and the volume of water should be at 14.5 billion cubic meters.

On February 17 director general of West Azarbaijan regional water company Kiyomars Daneshjoo announced that volume of water in Lake Urmia, northwestern Iran, has increased by 810 million cubic meters compared to the same date last year.

He also said that currently the total volume of water in the Lake measures at 2 billion cubic meters and the lake surface area stands at 2,311 square kilometers.

It is widely believed that local communities participation in restoring the lake’s glory is one of the most important elements in saving the “the turquoise solitaire of Azarbaijan”. 

MQ/MG

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